San Jose Rod and Wheelers

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A San Jose Rod and Wheelers group shot from 1956. Photo courtesy of Joe Crisafulli.
Photo from a Rod and Wheelers club event at the IES Hall in San Jose. Photo provided by Joe Crisafulli.
Photo courtesy of Joe Crisafulli.
Photo courtesy of Joe Crisafulli.
A club group shot in front of Tony Alvez' 1950 Cadillac. Photo courtesy of
A San Jose Rod and Wheelers group shot taken when the club won the club won the second annual Car Craft Club of the Year award in 1960.[1]
Members of Rod and Wheelers San Jose recieving the Car Club of the year award from Car Craft Magazine editor Dick Day.[2]
Lloyd Myers' 1949 Mercury convertible of San Jose, California. Lloyd was a member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club. The Merc was completed in 1959.
Ron Bianco's Cadillac. This was the first car that Joe Crisafulli scalloped. Ron was President for the club for a while in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of
Phil Macchiarella's 1950 Plymouth four-door of Santa Clara, California was restyled and painted by Joe Crisafulli. The first version of the car was completed around 1955/1956.
Joe Crisafulli's 1951 Oldsmobile of San Jose, California. Joe, a founding member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club restyled and painted the car himself late in 1959, while running J & J Auto Painting out of his dad's garage.
Jim Augustine's 1955 Ford Thunderbird. Jim's Thunderbird was restyled by Joe Bailon at Bailon's Custom Shop for Joe Castro in 1957. Jim bought the car sometime early in 1959.
Joe Crisafulli's 1956 Oldsmobile of San Jose, California. Joe was a member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club, and the Olds was restyled during the summer of 1957.
Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane of San Jose, California. The first version of Jerry's Ford, known as the Maze, was restyled in 1957, featuring custom body work and paint by Wirth's Body Shop, and a scallop paint job by Joe Crisafulli of J & J Auto Painting. Jerry was a member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club.
Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane of San Jose, California. The second version of Jerry's Ford, known as the Maze, was completed in 1958, featuring a radical scallop paint job by Bob Heinrichs. Jerry was a member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club.
Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane of San Jose, California. The third version of Jerry's Ford, was completed in 1959. Jerry was a member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers car club.
The second version of Chuck Burkart's 1958 Chevrolet Impala, featuring a scallop paint job that Joe Crisafulli laid in 1959.
Frank Goehring's 1958 Chevrolet Impala was restyled and painted by Joe Crisafulli at Flyers Body Shop. The build was completed in 1959.
Dick Bengiveno's Ford, also known as the Gopher.[2]
The Soto Bros with their Alky Wagon[2] Al Soto is seen wearing white pants, while Louie is in the wagon.[3]
A 1955 Plymouth that Joe Crisafulli restyled while he was running River Body Shop in San Jose. The car belonged to a fellow member of the San Jose Rod and Wheelers. Photo from the Joe Crisafulli Scratchbook and Photo Collection.

The Rod and Wheelers is a car club out of San Jose, California. The club was formed in 1954 at the San Jose Technical High School by Joe Crisafulli, Ken Conn, Wayne Del Conte, Ron Cash, Allen King and Sonny Colopy. In order to get in to the club, and hang a plaque on your car, you had to have something done to your car. Custom work or engine work. In the beginning, Joe believes he was the only one in the club that had a car that featured custom work. Joe had a 1947 Ford that Ken Conn had shaved the deck lid on, and Joe had installed 1949 Lincoln taillights on. After that they needed a dragster, so the club decided to rebuild the engine. Ken's dad had a Ford aut repair shop. With a rebuilt engine and tranny, the club were off to the drags at Little Bonneville Drag Strip at the San Jose Airport in San Jose, California. Joe believes the drag strip started about the same time as the club. Little Bonneville Drag Strip was a small airport that was open on weekends. Everything stopped when a plane was to land or take off, and that was Joe's excuse for loosing the trophy. Different clubs in the area besides the Rod and Wheelers would take turns helping to run the drag strip. One was the Axle Busters of San Jose.[4]

Ken Conn was the first President of the club, and the club meetings were held at his house until his mom said that they had to find another place to meet. About a year later Joe Crisafulli became President. Joe was the President for a few years, and the club meetings were then held in the basement of his house. The club had 6 up to 20 members between 1954 and 1960. The promote the nice guys in the club, they had courtesy cards printed out that they handed out to persons they helped on the road. The original jackets and plaques were black. At that time you were considered being in a gang if you wore a club jacket, and Joe remembers a few of the members were told to remove themselves from a new high school they had just started. Loyal to the club, they quit the school.[4] By 1957 the club consisted mostly of custom cars, and in order to "drag a plaque" a member had to have at least three custom features performed to his car.[5] The club started to have more and more nice cars join. Some of the cars were restyled by its owner, while other were done by Barris Kustoms, Gene Winfield, Joe Wilhelm, Joe Bailon or Joe Crisafulli.[4]

As the club grew, they had to move to another meeting area. The new meeting area was Tony Alvez house. Tony had a customized 1950 Cadillac.[4] In 1960, the club won the second annual Car Craft Magazine "Car Club of the Year". Giving to the needy, donating blood, participating in safety campaigns, and many other worthwhile activities all added up in favor of the club when it was time for Car Craft to select the winner, and the Rod and Wheelers won against hundreds of entries. At the time, the club regulations stated that a member had to have a show car within a certain periode of time after joining the club. In addition to the member cars, the club had a Chrysler powered 1934 Ford Coupe at the time as well. Weekly meeting were now held at club member Gene Carvello's custom shop. According to the presentation of the club as "Car Club of the Year", individual earned trophies in the club counted over 200. Some for go, but most for show.[6]

The club maintained active until the early 1960s, and they had a lot of nice friends, parties, picnincs and car shows all over California.[4]

The club was later revised, and Larry Block became the President of the revised club.[7]


Al Soto
Allen King
Barry Shulman
Bill Moore
Bob Smith
Chuck Burkart
Dennis Gomes
Dick Bangey
Dick Bengiveno
Don Kraylevich
Frank Cosca
Frank Goehring
Fuzz the Striper
Gene Carvalho
Jack Stanley
Jasper Corpora
Jerry DeVito
Jim Augustine
Jim Doyle
Joe Crisafulli
Joe Maniglia
Ken Conn
Larry Block
Larry Mammini
Lenny Macchiarella
Lloyd Myers
Louie Soto
Louie Stojanovich
Mel Saccomano
Phil Macchiarella
Pete Yerkovich
Ron Bianco
Ron Cash
Sonny Colopy
Steve Shericke
Tony Alvez
Tony Rose
Wayne Del Conte

Club Cars
Gene Carvalho's Ford Model A Roadster Pickup
Bill Moore's 1932 Ford Roadster
Larry Block's 1934 Ford Sedan
Joe Crisafulli's 1947 Ford
Frank Cosca's 1947 Plymouth
Louie Stojanovich's 1947 Plymouth Coupe
Joe Crisafulli's 1949 Ford Convertible
Lloyd Myers' 1949 Mercury Convertible
Tony Alvez' 1950 Cadillac Convertible
Jasper Corpora's 1950 Chevrolet
Joe Maniglia's 1950 Oldsmobile Convertible
Phil Macchiarella's 1950 Plymouth
Joe Crisafulli's 1951 Oldsmobile
Jim Doyle's 1952 Mercury Convertible
Mel Saccomano's 1953 Ford
Tony Rose's 1953 Studebaker
Jim Augustine's 1955 Ford Thunderbird
Larry Mammini's 1955 Ford
Frank Goehring's 1956 Chevrolet
Jack Stanley's 1956 Chevrolet
Lenny Macchiarella's 1956 Chevrolet Pickup
Dick Bangey's 1956 Lincoln
Joe Crisafulli's 1956 Oldsmobile
Pete Yerkovich's 1956 Oldsmobile
Fuzz the Striper's 1957 Chevrolet
Steve Shericke's 1957 Chevrolet
Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane - The Maze
Chuck Burkart's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Don Kraylevich's 1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Frank Goehring's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Joe Maniglia's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Bob Smith's 1959 Chevrolet Impala



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